Michigan Engineering News

North Campus in the spring

We must root out misconduct

In a letter to the community, Dean Gallimore says we must push for a better environment for all and demand more from ourselves and colleagues.

Earlier this month, I was made aware of an open letter being signed by professors in the fields of computer science, computing and human interaction around the country. Among many things, the letter states: 

“We are speaking out to hold our community accountable: we believe sexual misconduct has no place in our communities or institutions.”

Although I take issue with some of the factual information presented in the letter, I would like to emphatically state my support for the call for change. We must all hold ourselves accountable to root out sexual misconduct and harassment, and ensure our academic and research communities are free from predatory behaviors. We must also support those who speak up – the survivors who come forward with stories of misconduct, the community members who work towards systemic change, and those who actively address it by calling out bad behaviors when they see them.

This might sound disingenuous to some, coming on the heels of several allegations of misconduct within the College of Engineering and the University of Michigan, and the public outcry that has resulted. As individuals and as a community, we have not always lived up to our values, and we continue to struggle with episodes of misconduct that fly in the face of equity and inclusion.

As difficult as it is to confront our inadequacies and mistakes, we must do so every time, with even greater intensity and self-reflection.

The sun shining on the Lurie Bell Tower in North Campus
Lurie Bell Tower on North Campus. Photo: Joseph Xu/Michigan Engineering

A light is being shone on sexual misconduct and harassment in academia, and in the STEM fields. Every person who comes forward brings more light, taking us closer to eradicating toxic behaviors. That light, which gets brighter every day, is bound to keep rooting more out from the shadows. I submit to you the idea that every instance that comes to light is not evidence of lack of progress, but instead is how progress will be ultimately realized. 

But change is slow. Sometimes painfully so. That does not mean we should give up, but instead that we should actively push to accelerate that change. Within CSE, within the College, within the University and within the industry at large.

Concrete, meaningful actions are underway, and will continue to be. While each specific action outlined below does not by itself address the problems, together they create policies and an environment where representation and inclusivity are increased, equity is enabled, and harassment, misconduct, prejudice and bias are not tolerated. It has not been enough yet. And it will not be for some time. Although some processes lie outside of the College, we take responsibility for them, and we are making strides in changing them.

I call on all of you to stand with me in solidarity with the brave members of our community who have spoken out, and support those who may come forward in the future. We must demand a better environment for all, and demand more of ourselves and our colleagues. 

We must make change… and we will. 

Actions Underway and/or Completed (in reverse chronological order)

The below actions, taking place over the course of my tenures as dean or associate dean, are a concerted part of a larger culture shift within Michigan Engineering. Solidified with the articulation of our values and the establishment of Culture as a key pillar in our strategic vision, we have focused on implementing policies, practices and an environment where representation and inclusivity are increased, equity is enabled, and harassment, misconduct, prejudice and bias are not tolerated. 

Media Contact

Jennifer Judge Hensel

Executive Director, Communications & Marketing